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International Journal of Rotating Machinery
Volume 2012, Article ID 340439, 11 pages
Research Article

Effects of a Nonuniform Tip Clearance Profile on the Performance and Flow Field in a Centrifugal Compressor

1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), San 31, Hyoja-dong, Nam-gu, Pohang 790-784, Republic of Korea
2Department of Mechanical Engineering, Myongji University, Yongin 449-728, Republic of Korea
3The 7th R&D Institute, Agency for Defense Development, Daejeon 305-152, Republic of Korea

Received 14 February 2012; Accepted 27 June 2012

Academic Editor: Meinhard Taher Schobeiri

Copyright © 2012 Yohan Jung et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper presents a numerical investigation of the effects of a nonuniform tip clearance profile on the performance and flow field in a centrifugal compressor with a vaneless diffuser. This study focuses in particular on the magnitude and location of the wake. Six impellers with different tip clearance profiles were tested in the flow simulations. The accuracy of the numerical simulations was assessed by comparing the experimental data with the computational results for a system characterized by the original tip clearance. Although the performance improved for low tip clearances, a low tip clearance at the trailing edge improved the compressor performance more significantly than a low tip clearance at the leading edge. The flow field calculated for a system characterized by a low tip clearance at the trailing edge produced a more uniform velocity distribution both in the circumferential and in the axial directions at the impeller exit because the wake magnitude was reduced. As a consequence, this impeller provided a better potential for diffusion processes inside a vaneless diffuser.